A new study refutes the theory that only life in the South Pole had been affected by the same asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs from Earth 66 million years ago. Findings published Thursday in the journal Nature Communications reveal that as much as 70 percent of the animal population in the Antarctica was reduced as a consequence of the same powerful impact that killed dinosaurs.
This study, which is the first to argue that the planet’s Polar Regions were also devastated at the end of the Cretaceous Period, provides valuable insights about the greatest mass extinctions on Earth.
It was believed among the scientific community that life in the Polar Regions were too far from the mass extinction source to be affected, but the lead author of this study James Witts said the findings reveal that the Antarctic was home to a variety of marine species and suddenly it was not.
Researchers at the University of Leeds and the British Antarctic Survey on Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula over six years identified and determined the age of over 6,000 marine fossils, which dated from 65 to 69 million years ago. This is the largest marine fossil collection to be ever discovered, as claimed by the University of Leeds.
The collection includes clams on the sea floor, snails and large creatures that lived on the surface, among a wide variety of sea creatures. One of these large marine animals that are part of the collection is the carnivorous lizard Mosasaurus, a terrifying carnivorous creature that appears in the 2015 film Jurassic World.
Witts said most fossils are formed in aquatic environments surrounded by sediment that bury animal shells or bones. However, this process is different in fossils of dinosaurs and other terrestrial animals who require other events such as bones washing out to the oceans via rivers.
— CNN (@CNN) May 28, 2016
Climate change led by volcanic activity had nothing to do with the extinction of dinosaurs
The new evidence found by the researchers of this study confirms that the dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid hitting the Gulf of Mexico rather than by climate change led by volcanic activity.
“This is the strongest evidence from fossils that the main driver of this extinction event was the after-effects of a huge asteroid impact, rather than a slower decline caused by natural changes to the climate or by severe volcanism stressing global environments,” Witts said, as quoted by CNN.
Therefore the researchers refute previous studies suggesting dinosaurs’ extinction happened gradually and not suddenly by a massive asteroid impact. Other research mistakenly assumed that polar life’s extinction millions of years ago happened due to erratic food supply and surviving in darkness for six months in a row.
— Geosciences @UT (@txgeosciences) May 27, 2016